Resistance 2 Preview, Insomniac Interview
Ryan Schneider prepares us for battle ahead of our review. Will this be the year's top FPS?
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Burbank, California-based Insomniac, the ironclad talent behind Ratchet and Clank, is pretty fond of numbers at present. Big numbers. To be specific, numbers that overshadow those boasted by the original Resistance: Fall of Man, whose massive alternative-history shoot-outs helped PlayStation 3 off to a flying start back in 2006. Resistance 2, it's immediately clear, is built to another scale entirely. Thought 40-player deathmatch was the shizzle? Try 60-player on for size. Cut your teeth on split-screen co-op? Get stuck into that stand-alone eight player online campaign. Ryan Schneider, Insomniac's Community Manager, has plenty of stats to throw around when we stop by for a preview.
But first, a quick update on events in the Resistance universe. The Eurasian landmass is languishing in the grip of the Chimera - toothy bipedal alien types with refrigerator backpacks and a penchant for converting dead humans into yet more toothy bipedal alien types. The British Isles have been spared a similar fate by the glowering Nathan Hale, a US sergeant whose exposure to the Chimeran virus has endowed him with super strength and endurance. As Resistance 2 kicks off, Hale manages to get himself abducted from the ruins of London by the Sentinels, a group of similarly potent soldiers assembled by US brass. Shortly afterwards, the resurgent Chimera oust the Sentinels from their Icelandic base and mount a massive assault on North America. Needless to say, Hale and co wind up manning the wall.
Everybody up to speed? Right, let's talk numbers. To begin with, Resistance 2's multiplayer maps are up to four times larger than before, though Schneider admits that "typically" they lie somewhere between twice and four times the size. With around 70 different combinations of mode and map, he declares, "nobody should get bored with the map types to say the least."
As they strafe, slug and shoot their way around these sprawling environments, players will be able to call upon 125 character customisation options: new primary and secondary weapons such as the Magnum, with its explosive alternative fire, or the Splicer, a rifle which spews red-hot razor discs, together with "Berserks" - "temporary power ups, individual and team-based... some are tailored to if you're a Chimera or if you're a human." Notable Berserks include increased resilience, a radar enhancement which lets you detect static enemies, and the ability to see through walls.
We interrupt the onslaught of facts and figures to ask Schneider whether he pays much heed to Resistance 2's rivals, foremost among them the gutsy Gears of War 2. He shrugs. "We're all gamers, and we all want to know what's going on with our competitors. We know these guys too, we're all friends with each other, so we keep active within that - everybody raises the bar for each other. But what's most important is everybody raises the bar for themselves."
Raising the bar doesn't necessarily mean just piling on the numbers, though; it entails putting them to smarter use. Take those multiplayer maps, for instance. "We're going to have more diversity in terms of how the maps break down," Schneider explains. "So just to give you an example, one sixty player map can break down into two forty player maps, two twenty player maps and four ten player maps." If the developer has done its homework, Resistance 2 online should be decent fun whether you're defending an emplacement against a few close mates, or jockeying for a clear shot amidst scores of pubescent gunslingers.
The competitive play structure compliments this folding-table map design. At the outset of each match you'll be assigned to a five or eight-man team with a local objective, such as capturing or defending an area. Successfully completing that objective or laying into the opposing team swipes you additional experience points, arsenal-expanding, for the purposes of. The upshot of this is that players are kept evenly spread across the maps rather than clustering around hot spots; there's also, according to Schneider, a compelling sense of "participating in an intense firefight as part of a larger battle."